If I had a physical wound, friends and family would rush to my side to care for me and support my recovery. Often when you are physically wounded you need time to take it easy and take care of yourself. You have to rely on the support of others to find complete healing. “Don’t put any weight on that foot,” a doctor might say. Or, “Make sure you stay in bed and rest” a doctor might suggest as the best medicine for your recovery.
If I were fighting a physical war, people would rally behind me to help fight. People would be my aid when wounded and sacrifice to come to my rescue. You see, we rush to hospital beds after car accidents and during horrible illnesses (which is critical and necessary) but we don’t rush to the hospital to check on our emotional and spiritual hearts or the hearts of the ones around us. We neglect this hurt because it’s invisible and visible pain demands attention while invisible pain is easily ignored. Click To Tweet Invisible pain is deprioritized. Exhaustion defines some days because a war is being waged emotionally and spiritually in my life.
This past week I listened to three different stories that happened to revolve around Nehemiah. It spoke directly to my season in life and encouraged me to stand firm in my faith. You see, Nehemiah was just a simple cupbearer to the king living that cupbearer life when he felt overwhelmingly burdened and radically moved to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the broken walls and burnt gates. Nehemiah had never been sad in the king’s presence before so when the king saw him he said, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” Nehemiah replies, “I was very much afraid but I said to the king, May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers were buried lies in ruins, and it’s gates have been destroyed by fire?”
What’s displayed as sadness of heart can often shift me into my God-give direction. Don’t ignore the heaviness on your heart as weakness. Welcome it. Ask the Holy Spirit what he is trying to teach you or show you in feeling this? Out of habit, reflex or my internal optimist when I experience a moment of sadness my gut-reaction is to immediately course correct with an optimististic statement or wave the weakness away. It’s like “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie starts playing in my head. While not always a bad thing, I need to be aware that sometimes if I dig into my emotions, allow myself to acknowledge my feelings instead shifting my gears to a grin, I will find life and truth beneath the soil of my sadness. That’s where life begins. Beneath the soil. Beneath our bleeding hearts and hurts hope and freedom can be found.
Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem and examines the damage that’s been done. Oh, wait so he didn’t just get right to rebuilding and restoring? He had to first measure the damage that’s been done. I bet this could have weighed him down and discouraged him as he sees what once was strong and fortified left as rubble and ashes. This means if God gives me a vision to be debt-free maybe I should examine my spending habits? If I’m entering into a dating relationship maybe I should examine his behaviors before jumping in? Mostly, this is showing me that as I rebuild places in my heart I must first examine the devastating damage and heaps of hurt to know the best way to rebuild and restore.
Nehemiah didn’t ignore the threats. He continued to build, but kept a close watch on the work. The builders guarded themselves. They knew a real enemy existed and prepared for battle, positioned to protect all while persevering with the plan to rebuild. Forgetting that a spiritual enemy is prowling around me waiting to attack is ignorance on my part. It would be similar to being a police officer and not wearing a bullet proof vest. While hoping the enemy never attacks, preparing and protecting is paramount.
My favorite part of the story occurs when Nehemiah finishes building in only 52 days. When his enemies caught wind of this accomplished work they lost their self-confidence because they realized that this work had been done with the help of God. So, if I continue on the path God has planned for me even my enemies will see the completed works as something only God could accomplish? That’s astonishing.
When Nehemiah felt resistance he asked God to strengthen his hands. I have trouble admitting my weaknesses and if that’s difficult for me how can I possibly ask sincerely for strength? If I’m having an “off” day I rather lock myself in my room until I’m back to being an uplifting, joy-filled Tiffany. I don’t want to be seen as the frustrated, struggling, downcast Tiffany. You see, I want to appear like a girl that has her act together. I want to always be poised under pressure. I want the joy of the Lord to always radiate from my face and linger on my lips. I question God, “How can I represent you well if I feel so weak? How can I be your ambassador if I’m having a noticeably bad day? The thing is I realize it’s not about my faith, but that God is faithful. I keep making it about myself, when it’s not about me at all, but what God wants to accomplish through me for His glory. Although I have a sense of tumultous chaos, I’ve never felt so much peace that God is piecing these parts all together into something wonderful. I’ve come to a place where I must admit I’m a weak woman on my own.